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Obama in Boston

Senator Barack Obama campaigns in New York today. Last night, he held what he called his biggest fund-raising event ever here in Boston. A sell-out crowd of 5500 people packed Boston University's Agganis Arena. WBUR's Fred Thys reports.

TEXT OF STORY

FRED THYS: The crowd was twice as big as the biggest crowds Obama has been drawing in New Hampshire in the last few weeks, and last night, they were paying to hear Obama.

BARACK OBAMA: Imagine what the crowd had been like if the Yankees and the Red Sox weren't playing. Some of you know that I am a Chicago White Sox fan. Somebody tried to hand me a Red Sox cap to wear up here, and I don't believe in that. There are some politicians who will do anything for a vote, including throw their team under the bus, but here's one thing I will say, is that I dislike the Yankees more than the Red Sox.

THYS: Obama spent about 35 minutes hitting on the main themes of his campaign, such as his opposition to the war in Iraq and his promise to bring about universal health care. Part of the idea of such large fund-raisers is to get as many small donors as possible, just to get them on the campaign's database and then come back to them for more contributions.

OBAMA: We had people who gave 230 dollars. And we had people who gave 23 dollars.

THYS: Many in the crowd came from area colleges and universities. Massachusetts probably will not play a critical role in either the primaries or the general election, but it is next door to New Hampshire, with its crucial primary, and its status as a swing state, and Boston-area students could play an important part in the campaign by volunteering there. Part of Obama's message to the crowd last night was they should volunteer.

OBAMA: When we decide we're not just going to be vote, but we decide to be involved in the issues, and we're going to volunteer, and we're going to participate, then things start happening.

THYS: James Allers, a student at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and its Law School, was among those the campaign is hoping to get to New Hampshire.

JAMES ALLERS: It was very inspirational. He's very plain-spoken, which I really appreciate. He's very charismatic, but he speaks very directly. I think he speaks from the heart, and I really like the fact that he said: "I'm going to make mistakes, but I'm confident in my ability to lead the country," and I think it's high time we had some politicians who are willing to tell the people what we need to hear, and not what we want to hear.

THYS: Allers says he and his wife, Tiffany, wanted to see Obama in person before deciding whether to commit to him. He says he's pretty sold. There were also many young professionals in the crowd. Amy Boyd, an attorney in Boston, was signing a form registering to volunteer for Obama in New Hampshire.

AMY BOYD: I also lived in Chicago, and he actually is the first person I ever voted for who won anything, because I'm a Democrat from Texas. I've supported him for years, and decided tonight to go ahead and support him for president.

THYS: The Obama campaign hopes to get many of the people who were there last night up to New Hampshire next month for the first door-to-door and phone canvas to determine exactly how broad and how strong his support is there.

This program aired on April 20, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

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